School of Population Health

Causal Inference in Public Health (PHCM9518)

image - Advanced Epidemiology

A core task of epidemiology is to understand what causes adverse health outcomes and ‘what works’ to improve population health. This course takes an in-depth look at the core public health discipline of epidemiology, with a focus on causal inference. It has been designed to help you develop essential knowledge and skills in quantitative public health research that are directly relevant to everyday decision-making in policy and practice, as well as designing and implementing epidemiological research. The course is offered in two modes: internal (blended learning approach, including on-campus tutorials) and external (fully online).

This course builds on the concepts that were introduced in PHCM9794 Foundations of Epidemiology or PHCM9498 Epidemiology and Statistics in Public Health.

Credit points

This course is an elective course for all students enrolled in the School's programs and is a stream-defining course for students enrolled in the Epidemiology specialisation of the Master of Public Health. It comprises 6 units of credit (UOC) towards the total required for completion of the study program.

A prerequisite to enrol in this course is successful completion of PHCM9794 Foundations of Epidemiology or PHCM9498 Epidemiology and Statistics in Public Health. Students who have achieved a credit in the epidemiological components of these courses will be well-prepared to explore the concepts covered in the Advanced Epidemiology course.

Mode of study

External (Distance) and Internal (Face-to-Face) classes on campus.

Course aim

The aim of this course is to enable you to apply an advanced epidemiological approach to the study of disease and illness and to critically appraise, interpret and assess the quality of evidence of studies.

Course Outcomes

At the completion of the courses, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of epidemiological theory and its application in health science.
  • Critically assess the epidemiological quality of research in a range of studies outlining the basis of methodological approach and criteria for determining the quality of the research.
  • Demonstrate sophisticated interpretation and application of epidemiological methods and principles and explain their relevance to specific study designs.
  • Analyse epidemiological data using statistical analytical software.
Learning and teaching rationale

The approach to learning and teaching in this course is based on adult learning principles. When we introduce new material, we expect you as post-graduate students to integrate prior knowledge with new concepts. The best way to learn new concepts and methods taught in the course is for you to listen to the pre-recorded lectures available on Moodle, complete the required readings, and complete learning activities and assessment tasks that reflect the learning objectives of the course.


Assessment 1 - Quizzes
Weighting: 20%

Assessment 2 - Assignment 1
Weighting: 30%

Assessment 3 – Assignment 2
Weighting: 50%

Learning resources

Learning resources for this course consist of the following:

  1. Lecture slides
  2. Lecture recordings
  3. Supplementary resources such as videos, podcasts and articles
  4. Recommended readings
Recommended Readings

A core task in epidemiology includes staying up-to-date with advances in epidemiological methods and approaches published in the literature. The course utilises a range of resources, including textbooks and academic journal articles, to equip students with knowledge and resources that will facilitate lifelong learning of epidemiological methods and advances beyond the classroom. 

The following textbooks are relevant to some or all of the content covered in this course; however, reading lists will be provided for each Module.